Prepare Our Hearts – July 22

A Devotional from Central Presbyterian Church.Find another day here.

Wednesday July 22, 2020
3 John 5-8
Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, 6 who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. 7 For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. 8 Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.

When I was 16, I had the privilege of joining my church youth group on a short-term mission trip to Jamaica. I know, I know, it is so difficult to “suffer for Jesus” on a beautiful island in the Caribbean. Not counting a few quick trips into Canada, it was the first time I had ever been outside of the United States, and also the first time I had been on a plane. In so many ways, that trip was an eye-opening experience for me. While most people who visit Jamaica head to a beach or resort, we stayed in the interior hill country, spending our time working on a home construction project and visiting village schools and churches to share with them the love of Jesus. One of the things that struck me the most was that so many of the people we encountered, while living in abject poverty, were so incredibly gracious and hospitable. In my mind I had naively assumed that we would be the first people to ever tell Jamaicans about Jesus, so at first I was honestly a little disappointed to discover that many Jamaican Christian churches had been in existence for hundreds of years. That disappointment was quickly replaced with delight as members of a nearby local church invited us into their fellowship with open arms, taking great joy in worshiping together with a group of primarily teenage foreigners. During the service, I remember thinking that while many of the elements of worship looked and sounded completely different than anything I had ever experienced in my suburban American Evangelical Presbyterian Church, we worshiped the same Lord, Jesus Christ. And while I thought that I would be bringing Jesus on the plane with me, the reality that He was already present and at work long before I arrived opened my eyes to the majesty, hugeness, and greatness of God in a whole new way.

One of the beautiful benefits of being a part of the family of God is that pretty much no matter where you are, you have family already there. Not only that, but because of the presence of the Spirit of Jesus within them, believers have more in common with believers from far away countries than they do with the unbelievers who live next door, or even in their own homes! As John continues his letter, he affirms and applauds the continued hospitality and generosity shown to visiting missionaries. Although they arrived as complete strangers, Gaius in particular went above and beyond in supplying the needs of his brothers in Christ.

In sending out the twelve apostles to the lost sheep of Israel in Matthew 10, Jesus established a model for missionaries to follow. In verse 8 He told the twelve, “You received without paying; give without pay.” Missionaries of the gospel were never to demand or even expect those they were bringing the gospel to for the first time to support them or fund their missionary endeavors. To accept payment in exchange for the good news of salvation is a perversion and confusion of the message of the free gift of God. Sadly, many missionaries and churches did, and still do, ignore these words of Jesus and take advantage of their spiritually naive and immature audiences. Even today, it is not uncommon to find a preacher on a “christian” television station offering financial, physical, or spiritual blessing in exchange for a sizable “donation.” The missionaries who are now with Gaius did not act improperly; they accepted “nothing from the Gentiles” they were ministering to. John makes clear that for the sake of the purity of the gospel and the clarity of the message of grace that these missionaries declined whatever opportunities they had for comfort and security.

Because the missionary life is already difficult enough, entering into spiritually dark places and making countless sacrifices for the sake of the name of Jesus,  Scripture makes clear that established churches and mature Christians have a responsibility to partner with missionaries in their work through prayer and finical support. Because they serve as ambassadors of God to the world, fellow Christians ought to treat missionaries “in a manner worthy of God.” No only do we honor God through our faithful support, but John reminds us that in providing for the advancement of the gospel, we actually become “fellow workers for the truth.” When a football team wins the Super Bowl, it’s not just the players on the field who get to celebrate. Everyone who played any part in the success of the team, from the third-stringers to the ballboys to the equipment staff to the scouts and members of the marketing department, gets the same championship ring. Not everyone is called to personally enter the mission field, but every Christian has a unique and vital role to play for team Jesus. May we continue to faithfully and joyfully support and celebrate all of the members of the team as it marches on towards the ultimate victory.

Prayer for Today:
Lord Jesus, we are so grateful to be a part of Your kingdom and Your family. We thank you for the many men and women who have devoted their lives to sharing the message of Your gospel with those who have not heard it. We pray that You would abundantly provide for all of their needs, and that You would show us how we can best encourage and support these men and women of faith. Help us to see, celebrate, and rejoice in the advancement of Your Kingdom. For the sake of Your name we pray, Amen.